Viewed – 08 Feb 2009 Blu-ray
Brit-director Guy Ritchie has kinda fallen from grace over the last few years, following being labelled the next big thing with the hit British gangster capers Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, then his tabloid-bating marriage to Madonna resulting in some of the worst movies of his career thus far (the abomination that was Swept Away and the over-complex mess that was Revolver). So now with Madonna booted, up pops this, his much hyped return to form? But is it?
On first inspection all the ingredients are here – London setting, loud mouthed cockney geezers, a moody voice over and stylish camera work with clever editing. I sat down to this with a big grin on my face, but am sad to report, it was a grin that gradually faded as the movie progressed.
The story follows a business deal between a ruthless, ageing gangster called Lenny (Tom Wilkinson) and a swarve, well spoken Russian business tycoon. Then for some convoluted reason that is never really explained the Rusky lends Lenny a painting, which then gets nicked out of Lenny’s house (!), and soon panic ensues as he looks for the painting so not to annoy his business partner. This has to be one of the lamest set ups in movie history, and with an opening that hints at an ambitious, ruthless rock-star who wants power and will stop at nothing to get it, initial promise fades when said rock-star turns out to me a complete gimp, with very few lofty aspirations other than getting tanked up on drugs and being a twat. Yes, we have a crew of likable guys calling themselves the wild bunch (headed by new hot property Gerard Butler), but who are so poorly developed that they come across as cartoon characters in a world of idiots and simpletons.
This approach to London gangsters can work wonderfully when the script is genuinely funny as in Lock, Stock and Snatch, but here Guy Ritchie is trying too hard to save a limp script by throwing in clever one liners, rhyming slang and silly character names in an attempt to cover up the fact the story sucks. This is a movie that would work better with the sound off, so you could admire the look and style without being disappointed by everything else.
On Blu-ray we have a decent picture even if it’s a little soft focus, with beefy Dolby TrueHD sound Extras-wise we have a commentary from the director and some decent behind the scenes footage, all I must point out presented in HD. A package the film isn’t quite worthy of.
Verdict: 2 /5